In Conversation With Sanket Prabhu, Motivational Speaker
More and more Fortune 500 companies are taking their employees on a meditation retreat or offering comprehensive wellness programs. Such programs are a nearly $8 billion industry in the U.S. and are expected to grow at nearly 7.8% through 2021. In India, there’s a growing trend of lifestyle coaches and motivational speakers for both, the busy CEO and the workforce. Sanket Prabhu, a global banker-turned-motivational coach, is one such speaker who is making a change in the wellness world. Prabhu has more than 12 years of banking experience. In his previous role as Vice President – Global Banking for HSBC Bank, he has managed clients such as World Bank Group, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Tata Group, Reliance Group, HDFC Bank, LIC amongst others.
Prabhu is most passionate about helping leaders harness the power of collective potential to drive their organizations into the top league within their segment, industry, and country. His coaching and training programs are designed to help leaders formulate strategies that inspire action from relevant stakeholders to achieve consistent and sustainable growth.
We caught up with Prabhu and asked him about the broad changes in corporate wellness in India.
OF: What inspired you to change from Global Banking to lifestyle coach and motivational speaker? And how supported were you by your family and friends while making this jump?
SP: I have been obsessed with what I do now for more than 15 years, courtesy my dad. He had a very rough run growing up in poverty, losing his father when he was just fifteen; supporting his family (mother and two siblings), making the sacrifices and then going on to lead a life of financial stability; giving a fantastic upbringing to his family. Knowing his story made me wonder, how is it that some people who face so much adversity end up doing so well and while those who have access to all resources possible, end up not amounting to much. What is the secret sauce? What if everybody had access to it? This curiosity has inspired my work.
It wasn’t an easy decision to quit my well-paying job especially since it was going to impact the very people I love and care about the most. But there comes a moment in each of our lives where we have to decide whether or not to take that leap of faith and follow your passion to positively impact lives of people. I am so glad that my family understood why this is important to me. They are the force behind the force. Truly.
OF: Nowadays, it is common to see meditation being embraced in the top boardrooms across the world. What makes you a changemaker in the wellness space in the big, bad world of corporate India?
SP: A research conducted in 2016 states that 46% of the workforce in India suffers from stress, 43% have skewed BMI, 30% have a diabetic risk, 30% have hypertension risk. These are significantly high numbers to be ignored. Yet, this is not the worse part. We are living in such a competitive world where we trying to outdo the person next to us and we are willing to pay a price without even realizing if people whom we love are willing to see us make that sacrifice. Ergo, these numbers show an upward trend.
My obsession about why people do what they do had led me to believe that when it comes to wellness, a lot of people know what needs to be done; some of them know how it is to be done but very few people actually end up doing it. It is my mission to inspire these people to take that first small step towards a big change.
OF: How has working in Global Banking helped you in your avatar as a lifestyle coach?
SP: I was into Sales and Business Development managing multinational clients from US, Europe as well as Asia. I was also engaging with the length and breadth of internal stakeholders within my organization in addition to my pro-bono work with institutes. That meant spending a lot of time with a wide range of people from different age groups, different backgrounds, different dreams, different life choices and also different challenges. In many ways, it brought me closer to the problem at hand. It allowed me the privilege of understanding their perspectives and why they do what they do.
Helping analyze people and situations and observing the patterns made me realize the importance of wellness to become a norm. I have seen people with increasing awareness about wellness, in thought and action, to elevate their physical and emotional fitness to a level where they were able to contribute meaningfully towards their professional lives.
OF: In your experience, what is sorely lacking in the corporate world in the area of wellness? How have you helped to plug it in?
SP: I think the biggest concern out there is that wellness is not deeply integrated into the corporate culture in India. A large number of corporates are oblivious to the fact that mind and body are one and the same. What affects one, affects the another. And collectively it affects workforce performance and thereby it defines whether or not the organization is empowered to achieve its vision & mission.
Too many organizations are falling into a trap. They are so focused on survival, on getting the job done, on moving forward that they sacrifice wellness as a part of their culture.
Through my sessions, I use humor to capture emotions and share a perspective of why it’s important to create an ecosystem, a culture where the workforce can feel protected, cared and inspired to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. That is the secret to a happy workforce, which makes a valuable organization.
OF: What has been your biggest and most rewarding experience in corporate wellness training?
SP: In one word – Change. What most people don’t realize is each one of us is blessed with the incredible power of choice.
We can change anything in our lives in an instant. Many people will claim that they have made a “choice” to lead a more healthy, a more fulfilling life. But you haven’t truly made a decision until you back it with a commensurate action. Not just that, the action has to be done with a pig-headed discipline, every single day. Our lives are not defined by what we do well once in a while, it’s defined by what we do well consistently.
One of my clients, who works for a top US global firm made a real choice. Within six months, she had lost 18 kgs. More importantly, it made a tremendous impact on her personality. She looked more confident, more alive and extremely happy in her space. In many ways, it positively impacted people around her as well. She said, “This feels so great. I am never ever going back to living the way I was ever again.”
OF: What are the broad trends in wellness that you are seeing for the future in the business world?
SP: What I like about corporate India is that the awareness for wellness, while sub-optimal, is still on a rise. It would be interesting to see it gather the momentum I think it deserves. Having that said, in my opinion, there are two broad trends which I hope to see in this space:
In corporate India we clearly see some focus on fitness and nutrition but not so much on mental and emotional health. While change will happen in spurts, I clearly see a more gradual shift towards “Total Wellbeing” which is a more holistic approach.
One of the reasons, I believe, why corporates have resisted widely imbibing the total wellbeing philosophy, although they recognize it as essential, is that it’s very difficult to monitor and therefore assess the impact of their efforts. Hopefully, with the advancement in technology (wearables/fitness trackers), it could provide organizations with possibilities to capture data which can then be used effectively to create structures which incentivize workforce behavior.